Winter Preparation for Convenience Stores and Gas Stations: Ensuring Safety and Convenience
As winter approaches, gas stations and convenience stores confront challenges distinct from those of other storefronts. Ensuring the safety and satisfaction of their customers becomes even more critical in the face of issues like frozen fuel pumps, slippery pathways, and iced-over squeegee buckets. Dive into our guide on how to prepare your establishment for winter's trials, ensuring a steady stream of customers eager for the warm beverages and hot meals you offer!
Understanding the Winter Risks at Gas Stations
Blizzards and freezing temperatures introduce a variety of risks at gas stations. Clearly, slips and falls due to snow and ice build-up, reduced visibility leading to vehicle mishaps, and the health concerns of employees working in the extreme cold are just a few of the challenges faced. The last thing you need is a customer falling down while coming into your store! Fender benders in the parking lot are a hassle and a possible liability as well. Of course, you also want to make sure your employees are well taken care of and don’t feel left out in the cold!
Winterizing Fuel: Keeping Diesel Flowing
Paraffin wax in diesel can solidify in the cold, leading to clogged engines and subsequent stalls and repairs. By blending No. 1 diesel, which has less paraffin, with No. 2 diesel, the chances of paraffin buildup are reduced. Moreover, additives like Cold Flow Improver (CFI) can help diesel fuels operate effectively at lower temperatures.
Of course, storing diesel in underground tanks helps to prevent freezing. However, regularly checking for water contamination in the fuel is essential. Water in the fuel can result in ice formation, further increasing the likelihood of paraffin solidification. Weekly checks with a gas gauge stick and water-finding paste are recommended.
But as we winterize diesel, it's equally essential to ensure the cleanliness of the diesel pumps for your customers. Enter OTIS Multi-Surface Cleaner & Degreaser. It's the perfect solution to keep those pumps clean and free of buildup during winter. No more unsightly hydrocarbon oil and paraffin wax buildup on the pumps, because let’s face it, it gets on customers' hands and gloves. This gives them the wrong impression of your store and it’s a tried-and-true fact that clean stores sell more. Cleanliness ranked #3 with nearly a quarter (24%) of shoppers giving a 5-star review raving about the level of cleanliness. This mirrors US data from Gasbuddy citing that cleanliness ranks highest in reason for selecting a pit stop when looking at what factor is most often cited in the top 3. (See our last blog post for more information on this https://www.mycaf.com/blog/post/convenienceblog2022)
Safety on Forecourts: Clear Walkways and Safe Pumps
Snow and ice on walkways and driveways are hazardous, risking slips, trips, and falls. One way to keep these surfaces safe is by using CAF's non-tracking, environmentally safe SAFE PATH® liquid de-icer and pretreat solution. It's an effective way to ensure customers' safety by reducing the risk of icy patches. SAFE PATH® is a clear, environmentally friendly liquid de-icer and pretreatment solution effective in severe winter conditions. Unlike traditional chloride-based de-icers such as rock salts, SAFE PATH acts more quickly and is gentler on floors, concrete, and metals. Being chloride-free, it's safe for various surfaces, equipment, people, pets, wildlife, and landscaping. It's ideal for pretreating areas before snow and ice build-up but also works as a de-icer. Unlike rock salts, it won't stain or harm entrance carpets and flooring.
Anticipating Winter Travelers' Needs
During winter, travelers often face unforeseen challenges on the road, making it essential for gas stations to anticipate and cater to these additional needs. Offering squeegee fluid like ORUS® is one such thoughtful touch. Drivers rely on clean windshields for visibility, and the squeegees available at most gas stations can be a lifesaver. Moreover, with the increasing trend of reverse cameras in vehicles, ensuring they are clear of mud, snow, and slush is critical. Providing easy access to cleaning solutions can make this task simpler for drivers.
Furthermore, a well-stocked supply of windshield wiper fluid has become an expectation for those on the road. As vehicles traverse snowy roads, a mix of snow, dirt, and road salt can quickly dirty a windshield. Having the option to clean your windshield when filling up is a benefit to those drivers, creating good will for your store starting at the pump, especially when it is combined with fluids designed to repel moisture and prevent ice formation like ORUS® combined with FRIGO®.
CAF's FRIGO® Winter Additive is invaluable in making sure your customers don’t find your squeegee buckets frozen and useless. FRIGO is a methanol-based solution that keeps squeegee buckets from freezing down to an incredible -45°F. Coupled with ORUS® and ORUS TABS Squeegee Bucket Solution, FRIGO extends the effective temperature range, ensuring that customers can clean their windshields even in freezing conditions.
FRIGO helps you save money and reduces plastic waste from blue jugs. With the user-friendly FRIGO forecaster, you'll always know the right amount to use. While our hand pump makes dispensing easy, the FRIGO AUTO-DOSE™ offers an even simpler method. The AUTO-DOSE™ ensures quick and accurate dilution of your FRIGO®/ORUS® squeegee bucket solutions in freezing conditions, preventing frozen buckets throughout the winter.
Beyond Just Fuels: Serving Customer Needs in Winter
Winter not only affects the primary services of gas stations but also influences customer behaviors and needs. The cold weather, combined with possible storms, means that travelers and local residents alike will be looking for more than just fuel when they stop at your station.
Stocking Up for Storms
During winter storms, customers will be on the lookout for essentials. Stocking items like milk, water, toilet paper, baby supplies, and even beer can make your store the go-to place during inclement weather. Vehicle essentials like no-freeze wiper fluid, salt, and ice scrapers are also in high demand.
Additionally, ensuring a clear plan for snow removal and preparing for possible power outages is vital. Despite the weather, customers will still need supplies, and employees may find it challenging to commute. It's always better to be prepared.
During freezing winter weather, customers might seek out various products to meet their immediate needs, keep warm, and manage potential winter-related challenges. The following are some things your customers probably seek out from you during the cold and freezing winter months.
Elevating Customer Experience
To stand out and ensure customer loyalty, consider implementing some of the following:
- Warm, Clean, Welcoming Interior: Clean starts in the forecourt, but once you have your customers inside, make sure they see a clean, welcoming interior. CAF’s OTIS is not just for use outside; it is also NSF certified and is especially effective in food areas removing soda stains, grease, and other unsightly messes.
- Offer Winter Essentials for Sale: In addition to traditional items, consider offering winter-specific products like thermal gloves, hats, and even portable hand warmers.
- Hot Beverage Stations: A hot cup of coffee or cocoa can make all the difference on a freezing day. Offering complimentary or reasonably priced beverages can endear you to customers and keep them coming back.
- Regular Updates and Communication: If you're in an area prone to heavy snowfall or storms, consider using social media or a messaging system to keep customers updated on store hours, available services, weather alerts, road closures, and any special offers.
Preparing for winter is more than just ensuring your gas pumps work efficiently; it's about understanding, anticipating, and then fulfilling the broader needs of your customers during these chilly months. By implementing a few thoughtful services and stocking up on essential winter items, your store can not only ensure smooth operations but also elevate the customer experience and set you apart from your competitor. With the help of CAF Outdoor Cleaning's suite of products and a proactive approach to winter preparations, gas stations can confidently face the season while serving their communities effectively.
For more winter advice and insight from our experts, call us at (888) 737-0025.